So I started to write a short story while I was flying to Paris last year. Then I stopped for a long time. Then I started again when I was in Nashville a few months ago. And then I stopped. But I want to continue, so I'm putting up the first section of it here for you to read and give me feedback. Thanks :)
Disclaimer: Any likeness to actual people or events is purely coincidental and in no way reflect by any inference the beliefs of the actual person, place or entity as described in this story.
Jack and Florence and How They Fell In Love
If there was a day of the year that could beat Christmas, this might the one.
Florence had resented her parents for years. Let's be serious. Who names their daughter Florence post 1943? But despite her disdain, today could not have been better. It more or less started when Jack tripped over her purse.
Jack may sound bold and daring and somehow gentle and caring as a name, but not this Jack. For the last 20 summers, Jack didn't leave his house. And over the course of 20 winters, he never threw one snowball at his non-existent friends. So he figured after a quarter of a century out of the womb, he should probably birth himself out of his current cave.
Jack was a day trader who worked from home. He spent the majority of his adolescence playing online poker. Little did he know that he could utilize those skills to make an honest (sort of) living.
If there was a day of the year that was scarier than Halloween, this might be the one.
Jack didn't just lack social skills, he was completely inept when it came to human interaction. Words didn't form sentences when they fell out of his mouth. His hands shook as he would force himself to use them. He would shift eyes constantly, never looking up, just side to side behind the rapid fire blinking. But he came into the world for a reason, so he tried to keep his focus as he moved towards the local coffee shop.
Florence was studying the classics. She wondered almost everyday why in the hell she ever picked that as a course of study, but she was consistently intrigued by it all. The deeper she got into her classes, the more intrigued she found herself. So in her comfortable wingback chair in Portland Brew, she was lost. Double carmel macchiato in one hand, Anne Bronte's "The Tentant of Wildfell Hall" in her lap, she was lost. But after what only seemed like minutes but was actually hours, she was found.
Jack stumbled from stairs of the bus as he attempted to look like a normal human being who could exit a bus. Didn't happen. What did happen was a bag thrown from his shoulder, an awkward noise thrown from his mouth and a bruised ego that was already in bad shape.
If there was a day of the year that hurt more than April 14, this might be the one.
Jack proceeded to gather himself and his things and make his way into Portland Brew, the local coffee shop with the most mediocre online reviews. His hope was to find a non-Starbucks place that served fair trade coffee but didn't have too many patrons. He was throwing himself into a pool to learn how to swim and figured that was enough. That it wasn't necessary to jump into the ocean on his first day. Although it was already feeling like the chlorinated waters were rising into a huge squall.
As Jack made was walking up the entrance sidewalk to the shop, face down, he arrived to an opening door which was a quick reminder of why his mother always told him to watch where he was going. Jack missed her. But at that particular moment the only thing going through his head was the door that just hit it. He was too far to turn back homeward now but was questioning this venture more and more with each act of clutz he perpetrated. Once he collected his jarred thoughts he continued into the shop, resolved to watch where he was going. His head up, looking at exactly what was in his way. But his focus on the above-the-waist area of the world blinded him to where his feet were, and it wasn't long before his steps were fatefully interrupted by a purse sitting next to a wingback chair.
Florence was surprised to say the least. Her mind was so swallowed in the novel in her lap that not much shook her. But this did. Jack did. Her novel quickly closed as her legs reacted to the man tripping next to her, and her hands tried to deflect his bag which was barreling towards her face, but they weren't fast enough.
And with that, with the cold sting of a book bag to the face and the harsh burn of falling face first next to a beautiful girl, the two paths of Jack and Florence met.
She could've gone the way of a younger girl and focused on the pain. She could've let the anger take hold. She could've given into the baser desire to scream. But she didn't. In her refinement she didn't. In her compassion she didn't. Instead, she quickly jumped to her feet to help the poor man up. And he, flustered in his down state was surprised to say the least. His mind was so swallowed in the situation of yet again falling that all he would notice was people noticing and laughing. Not so with her. She noticed. She did not laugh. She helped. This angel of a lady cared.
"Oh my God! Are you ok?!"
"Ummm, yeah, I.. I uh .. I think so," as he took her hand. He wasn't sure what to make of her. In the last 35 minutes of being away from his nest, his chick heart hadn't seen anyone this gentile. His mother always kept him under her wing. Protected him. Shielded him. But this was a different feeling. This felt... freeing.
He brought himself to his feet again but now with angelic help, tried to brush off all his shame, but he couldn't. She could. She did. With her smile. Which he noticed immediately was dripping blood from the corner. Then it hit him like it hit her. "Oh geez! Your mouth! Did my? Did I? Oh geez! I'm sor.."
And before he could get the ever so important word out she stopped him, "No no no, I'm fine. It just startled me, really." And with that wiped her lip with a napkin and handed him his bag. He didn't know what to make of her. Of this. So he just took the bag and awkwardly started to step away only to be stopped again, "Wait..." She wasn't sure what to make of him. There was something that captured her about his being. His existence sort of, amazed her. It could've been her novel. It could've been the stark contrast he seemingly held to the entire world around him. Not sure what it meant she offered, "can I get you a cup of coffee?"